Two months can go a long way and, hey, self-isolation gives plenty of time for internal examination.
Al-Sadd manager Xavi Hernandez, the legendary Barcelona midfielder, says he’s ready to lead the Blaugranas, two-and-a-half months after rejecting the job.
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“Maybe years ago I could give myself some respect, but now that I have seen myself coaching I think I can bring things to the players,” said Xavi, via Marca. “But I made it clear to them that I saw myself in a project that started from zero, and in which the decision making was mine.”
Barcelona leads La Liga by two points with 11 matches to play and zero Clasicos left on the docket. Current boss Quique Setien took over for Ernesto Valverde in January.
Setien has overseen six wins and two losses in La Liga play. Barca was also eliminated from the Copa del Rey and drew Napoli in the away leg of the Champions League Round of 16.
Setien has been tasked with sorting out a club that’s a bit messy from top-to-bottom, and that might be kind. Xavi is wary of that, too.
“I would like to be very in tune with everyone,” Xavi said. “There can’t be anyone in the dressing room who is negative, toxic, and the medical issue is important. Everything has to fit. I’d like to go in with people from my environment to make a good team.”
Al-Sadd has won 57 percent of its matches with Xavi at the wheel, including the Qatar Cup and the Qatar Super Cup. Barcelona is a leap forward, though.
Xavi went as far as to speculate which current players should be lynchpins for Barcelona, and which ones should be targeted from other clubs.
He loves former teammates Lionel Messi, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, and Marc-Andre ter Stegen, and says midfielders Frenkie de Jong and Arthur fit the bill.
Xavi said he’d like to see Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry and Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho in blue and red, but doubted the oft-discussed return of PSG star Neymar.
“I would sign wingers, like Neymar. I do not know if he would fit in a non-football sense, but football-wise I do not have doubts that he would be a spectacular transfer. Barcelona already have a style of play in the middle of the park… but they lack wingers like Bayern have. There don’t need to be many new ones: Jadon Sancho, Serge Gnabry… .”
It’s not difficult to read into Xavi’s statements; He felt he was ready for the job in January, but didn’t want to step in during a brutal time at the club. While it’s not the resolve you’d like from a club legend you can respect it.